Many technologies are reliant and precise, accurate and reliable time. Time synchronisation is vital in many technical systems that we encounter everyday, from CCTV cameras and ATMs to air traffic control and telecommunication systems.
Without synchronisation and accuracy many of these technologies would become unreliable and in could cause major problems, even catastrophic ones in the case of air traffic controllers.
Precise time and synchronisation also plays an increasingly important part in modern computer networking, ensuring the network is secure, data is not lost, and the network can be debugged. Failing to ensure a network is synchronised properly can lead to many unexpected problems and security issues.
To ensure accuracy and precise time synchronisation modern technologies and computer networks the time controlling Network Time Protocol (NTP) is most commonly employed. NTP ensures all devices on a network, whether they are computers, routers, CCTV cameras or almost any other technology, are maintained at the exact same time as every other device on the network.
It works by using a single time source that it then distributes around the network, checking for drift, and correcting devices to ensure parity with the time source. It has many other features such as being able to assess errors and calculating the best time from multiple sources.
Obtaining the time
When using NTP, getting the most accurate source of time allows you to keep your network synchronised – not just together but also synchronised to every other device or network that uses that same time source.
A global timescale known as Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) is what most NTP servers and technologies use. A sit is a global timescale, and is not concerned with time zones and daylight saving, UTC allows networks across the world to communicate precisely with the exact same time source.
NTP time servers
Despite their being many sources of UTC across the internet, these are not recommended for accuracy and security reasons; to receive an accurate source of NTP there are really only two options: using a NTP time server that can receive radio transmissions from atomic clock laboratories or by using the time signals from GPS satellites.